fall off / down

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Senior Member
I was traveling with a group with one native English speaker and I told him that my cell phone had fallen off while inside the car. But he told me that it had fallen down. Do the phrasal verbs fall off and fall down mean the same thing?
  • Andreas_

    New Member
    Russian - Russia
    Ah, these ones are tricky. There is a little difference between 'em. Generally, I would say:

    1) fall off sth - transitive

    I fell off a bicycle.
    I fell off a ladder, a roof.
    He's fallen off a chair.

    You can fall off sth only if you were previously on it.

    If "fall off" is used as an intransitive verb, it mostly means "decrease".
    Student numbers have been falling off recently.

    2) fall down - can be both transitive and intransitive

    He fell down the well ("down" shows the direction)
    You fell down the stairs (again, indicates the direction)

    Or intransitive, as it was with your phone:
    My phone has fallen down.
    He was walking along the street and suddenly, he fell down.
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